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World Heritage Convention

Decision 25 BUR V.138-141
Canaima National Park (Venezuela)

V.138     The Bureau noted a progress report received for the development of the Action Plan for Canaima National Park from the Venezuelan authorities in December 2000. The aim of the Action Plan is to promote dialogue between all the stakeholders of the National Park in order to create favourable collaboration for the protection of the Park. To this end, three workshops were held in 2000 for the Pemon Communities living within or near the National Park. The themes discussed included community participation, environmental education, ecotourism and protection of flora and fauna. More meetings with the local communities in different parts of the Park will be needed in order to get the full participation of the communities for guaranteeing the viability of the Action Plan.

V.139     IUCN has received a number of reports on the situation in the Canaima National Park. There is ongoing and increasing concern and opposition to the construction of a power-line, which cuts through a limited portion of the Park. Indigenous people from the Pemon Communities continue to oppose the power line due to the long-term consequences that the project will have on both the territories they occupy and their cultural integrity. They have been responsible for toppling over thirty power line towers. The National Guard now has a permanent presence in the Park in order to guarantee the continuation of the project.   Although the main objective of the power line is to sell electricity to the Brazilian city of Boa Vista, electricity is also required to exploit the mineral resources in the Venezuelan Guyana Shield area.  Apart from existing traditional mining operations, it is expected that the power line will fuel new mining developments in six important buffer zones adjacent to the World Heritage site. Several international mining corporations have started a programme of land acquisition and identification, including Crystallex International and Placer Dome. There are concerns about potential impacts associated with mining around the Canaima National Park.  On several occasions, indigenous people have reported an influx of small-scale miners heading towards the headwaters of the Caroni River inside the National Park. Although illegal, these violations have not been persecuted. Without due ecological consideration, the potential industrial development of the region adjacent to Canaima National Park and the advance of mining threaten to isolate the Park within a few years, thus putting in jeopardy its long-term integrity.

V.140     IUCN requested the State Party to provide detailed information on what has been implemented after the 1999 IUCN mission. The IUCN Representative also informed the Bureau that Canaima National Park is one of the sites included in the UNESCO/IUCN/UNF-UNFIP project on management effectiveness for World Heritage natural sites. This project may help to provide some possible solutions for the problems existing at the site. The IUCN Representative furthermore recommended that the proposed World Heritage Indigenous Peoples' Council of Experts (WHIPCOE) may consider inviting participants from this site to the Council.

V.141     The Bureau recalled the recommendations made by the 1999 IUCN mission report, in particular the urgent need to create mechanisms to promote dialogue between all relevant stakeholders on the conservation and management of the area. This should include the indigenous Pemon Communities, mining interests, and relevant government agencies. This mission also recommended that an Action Plan be developed by the State Party as soon as possible to follow up recommendations of the mission. The Bureau urged the State Party to report on the implementation of these recommendations and requested the State Party for a report on this situation and possible impacts on the site by 15 September 2001.

Decision Code
25 BUR V.138-141
Properties 1
State of conservation reports
2001 Canaima National Park
Context of Decision